NACD is committed to promoting the health of the animals and invertebrates that make our ecosystems function by pollination. Pollinators are integral to our ecosystems and our economy, regardless of landscape, and you can contribute to pollinator habitat in your own backyard. By implementing pollinator conservation practices, you will not only benefit our most well-known pollinators, the bees, but also other wildlife, from butterflies to birds. Conservation is holistic, so by increasing the biodiversity of nectar-producing plants that anchor soil on your property, you also attract invertebrates, birds, bats and other unlikely pollinators to your system. The additional diversity of habitat and organisms can also benefit your property and garden through additional ecosystem services, like biological control and the provision of additional soil organic matter.
Each year, NACD celebrates National Pollinator Week, facilitated by Pollinator Partnership, held in mid-June. National Pollinator Week was designated by the U.S. Senate in 2007, marking a necessary step toward addressing the decline of pollinator populations. Pollinator Week has now grown into an international celebration, with schools, gardens, churches, stores and organizations hosting events celebrating pollinators.
Pollinator Habitat Establishment Guide
Habitat loss is a major threat to bees, butterflies and other beneficial insects. The Bee & Butterfly Habitat Fund has created a “Pollinator Habitat Establishment Guide” for anyone looking to establish pollinator habitat on their lands. The guide outlines the steps that go into planning, preparing, planting, and maintaining great pollinator habitat.
For Your Backyard
Create a pollinator watering station. With sweltering temperatures and more direct sunlight in summer months, sources of water can be hard to find. Add a bowl, dish or even a pie plate to your yard filled with rocks, marbles or pebbles and a shallow layer of fresh water. Spread the substrate evenly to provide pollinators with somewhere to land without drowning. Keep the water station out of direct sunlight and monitor the water levels to make sure there’s an adequate supply (and that you don’t inadvertently create a mosquito breeding ground!)
Plant a mixture of native flowering plants. If you haven’t planted your garden yet, it’s not too late! Pick native blooms – a regional pollinator planting guide is available online through Pollinator Partnership, just enter your zip code. Plant a mix of species; biodiversity helps attract a wide range of pollinators and keeps your garden healthy! If you must use pesticides, use them correctly and according to label or avoid their use if possible, as chemicals can affect the health of invertebrates.
Provide natural habitat for native bees. Some of the most easily identifiable pollinators – honeybees – are not native to the U.S. That means they’re less effective pollinators than our native, docile North American bees, a majority of which are ground-dwelling. By leaving leaf litter and organic material in your garden bed, you’ll provide substrate they can utilize to make nests or use for shelter. Avoid using mulch, or leave some areas of soil uncovered so bees can create or access their tunnels.
Build a bee hotel. Bee hotels or bee boxes provide a hive for solitary bees that do not live in swarms like honeybees do. You can use scrap lumber (ideally older, weathered scraps that have less chemical treatment) to build a frame in any size or shape suitable for your yard. The frame must be at least six inches in depth and enclosed at the back. Slope the roof to avoid rainfall pooling and add bamboo, reeds, tubes or blocks of wood with drilled holes to create the hotel ‘rooms’. Stack the rooms, and mount the hotel at chest height facing south. Consult this article for more specifics.
North American Pollinator Protection Campaign
NACD is a member of the North American Pollinator Protection Campaign (NAPPC) through partnership with Pollinator Partnership (P2). NAPPC’s mission is to encourage the health of resident and migratory pollinating animals in North America.
Partners work to:
- Raise public awareness and promote constructive dialogue about pollinators’ importance to agriculture, ecosystem health, and food supplies;
- Encourage collaborative, working partnerships among participants and with federal, state and local government entities to strengthen the network of associated organizations working on behalf of pollinators;
- Promote conservation, protection and restoration of pollinator habitat; and
- Document and support research related to the science, economics and policy of pollinator conservation.
Each year, NACD and P2 seek nominations for the Farmer-Rancher Pollinator Conservation Award to recognize the unique contributions members of the agricultural community make to pollinators where they are needed most – supporting our food supply. Learn more about this award and how to submit a nomination on the P2 website.
In 2020, NACD’s Stewardship Week will celebrate the theme “Where Would We BEE Without Pollinators?” Free, downloadable stewardship and education materials will be available on NACD’s website in the near future, as well as supplemental materials like worksheets, sample proclamations and more.
On March 3, 2020, NACD released the Pollinator Field Day Curriculum Guide. The first-of-its-kind guide was developed through the support of the David Rockefeller Fund Pollinator Education Initiative Grant and the Pollinator Partnership, and provides interactive learning experiences for grades K-8 by engaging them in habitat-focused, pollinator-themed activities for the classroom and outdoors.
Each activity has been correlated to education standards and provides a pathway to valuable partnerships with local soil and water conservation districts. The new curriculum guides teachers and educators through the resources and tools needed to conduct a successful pollinator field day, including planning and implementation guidelines, materials and evaluation strategies. You can learn more about the guide by watching a webinar here. To learn more and download the guide, click here.
Districts at the Forefront
Many conservation districts provide services related to planning, implementing and supporting pollinator conservation activities. To learn more, contact your NACD Region Representative and see the specific examples below:
Birds and Berries – Friend or Foe? – In California’s wine country, Wild Farm Alliance recently partnered with the Napa County Recourse Conservation District (Napa RCD) and others to hold an “All Things Avian” field day about supporting beneficial birds and managing pest birds in the vineyard.
Pollinator Conservation Takes Off in Montana – During the first year of its pollinator initiative in Montana, NRCS entered into 40 contracts with landowners on about 1,600 acres in 16 counties. Funding problems hindered enrollment in 2017, but King says the issue of pollinator declines isn’t going away any time soon, and natural resource agencies have vital roles to play.
Local Massachusetts district’s fruit tree sale supports pollinators – Worcester County Conservation District (WCCD) sells a variety of fruit-bearing trees and other flowering plants to educate the public on the importance of having fruit-bearing trees in their landscaping. “Not all of them attract bees, but we highlight which ones do. The more variety you have in your yard, the more habitat and food sources there are for the pollinators. It’s critical and the basis of the food chain.”
NACD Soil Health Champion recognized for cutting-edge pollinator management practices – In 2017, NACD Soil Health Champion Brendon Rockey of Center, Colo., received the NAPPC-NACD U.S. Farmer-Rancher Pollinator Award for his biotic approach to farming.
Stewardship Spotlight: Iowa Celebrates “Local Heroes – Your Hardworking Pollinators”– In celebration of the 60th annual Soil and Water Stewardship Week, Iowa conservation district and other agriculture organizations held events celebrating the 2015 stewardship week theme “Local Heroes – Your Hardworking Pollinators.”
Time to Celebrate Our Butterflies and Bees! – The Connecticut Council on Soil and Water Conservation has announced that Governor Ned Lamont has proclaimed June 17-23, 2019 as Pollinator Week in the State of Connecticut. Connecticut has become a leader in pollinator awareness, starting with the approval of the Pollinator Protection Act (2016) and the launch of the Pollinator Pathway in Fairfield County (2017), which has grown to over 40 towns across the state and over the border into New York in the last two years.
New York district’s grant helps support its pollinator garden: The Hamilton County Soil and Water Conservation District (Hamilton SWCD) in New York received a grant from the New York State Pollution Prevention Institute to install Green Infrastructure Demonstration Projects, including a pollinator garden maintained with roof water harvested in a rain barrel.
Pollinator-Friendly Urban Spaces and Working Lands: The Gold Ridge RCD (GRRCD) and the RCD of Greater San Diego County (RCDGSDC) are working with community members to leverage home gardens, schools, and agricultural lands to create diverse and plentiful pollinator habitat.
Illinois district teaches local students about pollinators: The Kankakee County Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) created a workbook for local schools in the area to teach students about the importance of native plants and pollinators.
- Native Plants & Pollinators Workbook
- Native Plants & Pollinators Workbook KEY
- Native Plants & Pollinators Teacher’s Guide
- Native Plants & Pollinators PowerPoint and Slides
- Watch an archived webinar featuring The Xerces Society, discussing how improved soil health increases the prevalence of beneficial insects like ground-dwelling bees that pollinate our crops
- An archived urban and community conservation webinar entitled “Pollinator Conservation,” featured presentations from the Pollinator Stewardship Council in Ohio and the West Multnomah SWCD in Oregon